I’m starting to really get the feeling that perhaps I should be more methodical with both my random book purchases and my random book reading. For whatever reason, maybe I wasn’t paying attention because I found a used bookstore about ten minutes before closing time, or maybe I was too distracted by the conversation the high schoolers behind me were having about the Slavonic Dance Number 3, or maybe it was the end of a long day and I was hungry. Whatever the reason, when I picked up Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie’s Song (Young Adult 161 pages) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, I apparently failed to realize that this is not the first book in the Spiderwick Chronicles. I was in a hurry and therefore only saw the spine of the book where it said Spiderwick Chronicles Book 1. And I went from there.
The neat part about this book is that, even though it’s clearly a follow-on to the previous books, it’s still a stand-alone story, with unique characters and solid explanations to what’s going on and why. Obviously, there are some references to what I believe where characters and events from the actual Spiderwick Chronicles, but not having read any of those didn’t detract from my reading of this story.
“Greetings from Florida. Think life here’s all fun and sun? Think again! It used to be pretty okay, but then I got this loser freak of a stepsister. And she didn’t come alone. She brought this big, stupid book about faeries. She said they were real, but did I believe her? No. I said it was all fake. Boy, was I wrong. Now there are faeries everywhere! EVERYWHERE! And they’re NOT going away unless we help them! Crap!”
This book was obviously intended for a very young audience, as the story-telling is very quick and lyrical with short, descriptive paragraphs. There’s a lot of rhythm to the story, and even several sections with actual rhymes about the story or the characters or potentially things to come in future books in the series. There’s also a selection of character portraits and drawings from the story itself, which gives the book something of a class feel, for those who believe that fantasy simply must start with a map in the front and continue with drawings throughout the story. I liked the drawings and felt that they added a good visual depiction of the characters and events, but I think some of the drawings were in less than ideal places in the book. There were several times when I would turn the page to find a drawing with its caption from part of the book I wouldn’t read for another few pages and it would spoil the suspense because I saw the picture of what was about to happen. I think a great way to do an illustrated book like this would be to make sure that the illustrations throughout the story are placed the page after the event takes place in the book. That way, a reader could read the description of something that happens in the story, then turn the page and see the illustration and get more information about the story from that.
One of the other reasons this book is clearly intended for a younger audience is the point of view and the topics discussed. Two younger people have to deal with suddenly becoming siblings and all the changes that entails. Nick loses his room and Laurie is excited to have a brother, but the situation isn’t as either of them would hope. They are both very different characters with very different views on life. Nick is focused on video games and building models and Laurie is eager for an adventure, but adventure isn’t nearly as much fun as it’s cracked out to be. The way they both look at problems and the world around them seems very much the way I would imagine younger people look at the world. The same goes for their dialogue and their thought processes. It feels like a very authentic book for younger people.
Overall, this was an interesting story and a good book to take with me to the laundry room while I waited for my clothes to go through the washer and dryer. I started the book when I put my clothes in the washer and finished it just before the dryer finished. I think I’ll rate it as a solid three on my rating scale because I’m happy that I purchased it and I’m likely to read it again at some point.
Works cited: DiTerlizzi, Tony and Black, Holly. Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: the Nixie’s Song. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007.